Painful Forgetfulness

I rise, in the throes of excitement.  Today I see Mikal for a tattoo consult, an embellished lotus flower on my forearm.  My heart pumps adrenaline through my vessels, permeating cell walls, intoxicating my system.  Oh yes, I feel you beckoning me from the cabinet.  I promise I will come, push and screw your bottles, dispense pebbles of happiness into my hands, wash them down with cleansing waters.  I will not forget, I declare.

I hop into the shower, blood coursing with greater and greater speed.  My mind fogs as the shower envelops the bathroom in a sheet of steam.  I fuse with the spouting water from the shower head.  The abrasive water carries away with it all of the fibers within my mind that remind me of what must be done this morning.  Every morning.  I know you are still beckoning, I feel you.  Just five more minutes, okay?  This shower will be done imminently.

I dry and dress.  My mind is dominated by my contemplations of the swiftly approaching consult.  The pebbles in the cabinet no longer yearn on my heartstrings.  I am free, severed, floating in an unfamiliar world, one I know not.  How are you?  We have never met before, have we?  It’s a pleasure.  With shaky hands I eat a yogurt as quickly as possible in order to catch the bus while the pebbles to which I am typically undyingly faithful quiver with loneliness and inattention in their desolate cabinet.

Freedom feels amazing, the taste of a delicacy elusive and rare.  Bubbles form within the pit of my stomach and gurgle to the surface, releasing fragrances sweet and manic.  I board the bus and say with swift speech to the driver I need a heads up when we hit Division and 50th.  I am unfamiliar with this route.  Bubbles spilling from my mouth, I make my way to my seat and promptly set my iPod to Taylor Swift.  By the time I reach Mikal, I am flying high as a kite, words gushing forth with the rapidity of water flowing from a broken dam.  My eyes widen, my voice raises, and the adrenaline rushing through my veins increases in potency.

I am so happy, so, so happy.  I could sing songs and compose music heralding my intense happiness.  I enter Starbucks to sit in warmth while waiting for the Streetcar to go to the library.  I notice a woman sitting in the same seat as she had the day before.  I go up to her and forthrightly inform her she is sitting in the same seat.  She replies, “Yeah, so?” with confusion, and I gaze at her with the widest grin my mouth could muster and say, “I just wanted to say hi.”  I walked away, bouncing on clouds.

After obtaining a library card, to my utmost excitement, and possibly the bewilderment of the library staff, I made my way to Powell’s.  I entered the cafe, sat down with my laptop, and began to write a chapter in my book with fury and unrestraint.  I came to a disappointing halt, much to my dismay, when I realized I had reached the point where my memories had been seemingly obliterated, and I would require hospital records to continue.

I began to feel the hunger in my mind.  It was lacking sustenance.  I crossed the street to Starbucks and downed two shots of espresso, hoping to ease the discomfort that was beginning to brew within my core.  I called my mom “just to talk,” as I had been saying all day, with the total number of calls teetering towards twenty.  The loneliness compounded the discomfort, edging it in the direction of a stage four hurricane.

I returned to my apartment breaking, cracking at the seams, shaking in bafflement.  What has gone wrong?  I was flying a mile high only to crash to the depths, flight captains losing contact with air traffic control.  And then memories flooded to the surface.  Did I entertain those pebbles that were so ardently beckoning me this morning, the sources of my sanity and stability?  No, they remained there, waiting for me like lovesick puppies huddling around the front door waiting for their owners to return.

I have not made this mistake in years, if in fact, ever, and it is ground I do not wish to tread again when preventable measures are ready at hand.  The pain of bubbles of elation popping and the darkness that ensues is like a paralytic injection that halts all operable properties of the mind and leaves one in a state of paralysis, wondering, “Where or how did I go wrong?”

To Be Free

I often times feel trapped in the world of my illness.  My life is a series of medical appointments – psychotherapy, psychiatric, life skills groups, DBT groups, ECT treatments – which are all consuming, centering solely on the treatment of my illness.  Not only am I trapped in the physical world, but I am imprisoned within the confines of my mind.  My mind is my torturer, offering unrelenting disruption and disturbance.  Thoughts drown out the world around me, and in a sense create an impenetrable bubble and barrier between myself and the world.  I am secured – ball and chains – to this world with bonds that cannot be severed.  My illness has kept me from participating in many aspects of life that are essentially commonplace phenomena, such as advancement and completion of school and studies, participation in social circles, and the partaking of events and happenings that is taken for granted by many.  

I pray to God to be free, to know what it is like to be able to just live, to have the opportunity to participate in the fruits of life without having to question my ability, dependent upon my mental state, to engage in events.  I feel as though I have lost so much, with numerous hospitalizations, outpatient programs, years and years of psychotherapy and medication management, and now thirty-four ECT treatments.  My autonomy has been handed over to hospitals and doctors.  I receive glimmers of hope – progress with therapy and medications, improvements during hospitalizations and in ECT treatments – but yet this is not living.  I think we often take for granted our ability to be, to live and participate in a life that has happiness and meaning, to be able graduate from educational institutions or to go throughout our days without having to check our phones to see what scheduled medication we are long overdue to take.  I am seeing marked improvements with my medication therapy and numerous ECT treatments, but I thirst for more.  I hunger for more.  

Nina Simone’s song, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free,” touches me deeply and expresses so well how I feel in my search for freedom.


I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free


I wish I knew how

It would feel to be free

I wish I could break

All the chains holding me

I wish I could say

All the things that I should say

Say ’em loud say ’em clear

For the whole round world to hear

I wish I could share

All the love that’s in my heart

Remove all the bars

That keep us apart

I wish you could know

What it means to be me

Then you’d see and agree

That every man should be free


I wish I could give

All I’m longing to give

I wish I could live

Like I’m longing to live

I wish I could do

All the things that I can do

And though I’m way overdue

I’d be starting anew


I refuse to give up this fight, to acquiesce my power to that of my illness, but oh,  how wonderful freedom would be.  Perhaps my struggle is what makes me unique, what makes me special.  A defining characteristic of who I am.  I must find my own freedom within this seemingly impenetrable world that is my illness and slowly chisel cracks in walls that are already beginning to crumble.  Will freedom ever come in the sense I wish for it to?  Most likely not, as I do not believe that is feasible.  However that does not mean I cannot be free.  I will find freedom in the quality of the life I create for myself, in the life-saving treatments, with the friends I surround myself with.  Freedom is not as elusive as I believe it to be.  It is there, requiring nothing more than an ardent search.